It is important for humans to be able to know us on a deeper level if they want to cultivate joy with us. It is necessary to understand what joy is, what does joy feel like, and what does it look like in different horses. When a horse is allowed to express her true nature, there is joy. It is like the ducks we have at the farm. Every day they enjoy their ducky nature, which is diving into the pond and eating mud. That certainly would not be joyful for a horse! Neither do we like a lot of human -centric activities, or even human type comforts. We want, foremost, to enjoy our equine natures. Beyond that, different types of horses — the different horse characters — express joy in different ways. Humans cannot expect us to be joyful, when what you are asking us to do is against our most authentic nature! Take me, for instance, I’m Gypsie, the one up front in this photo. I type as the” Prince”. I like to set clear rules. I like to lead. Jhana (in the background) types as the Sargeant. She likes to follow clear rules. That makes us a perfect pair. It is no coincidence that we run the ring the way we do, me on the inside focused on the trainer, while Jhana shadows me like a loyal companion.
If you didn’t recognize us, you might expect that I was bold, and Jhana timid, but it is not as simplistic as that. When something scary happens, something that scares us both, Jhana takes over the lead, and confronts the ‘scary unknown’ in a very bold and agressive way, which allows me to take flight to a safe distance, and peruse the situation, and call out orders, if necessary.
We work as a team. There is no permanent “dominator”, as some humans like to imagine.
When Jhana had her babies, she turned them over to me for “lessons”. But the babies softened me, and I really spoil them too much. Let the humans around here take on their training! I’m learning to love life in my middle age.
So the point of this post — Cultivating the Joyful Horse — is that it requires humans not to project what joy should look like in this case or that — since what it looks like is different for different horse characters, and also changes as the situation changes. What is joyful to a horse of the type “Friend” is not at all the same as what is joyful for “the Tough One” or “the Victor”.
Joyfulness comes from the freedom and capacity to express one’s authentic nature. We recognize joy as enthusiasm. The capacity for joy is also dependent on the health of the horse, age, and training. Human can help cultivate joy and joyful relationships with us, by knowing our horsey nature, by recognizing our individual natures (character/ type) and by helping us stay healthy at all ages, and training our bodies to have the capacity to express our freedom and our joy. Humans can cultivate joy in themselves and learn what joy truly feels like. Then they can recognize horses on a very deep level, where the joyful energy arises in us. This is nature’s gift to horses.
In 2009 Alderlore will present a 5-day clinic on Cultivating the Joyful Horse for humans and their horses. Check our website in March for further details www.alderlore.org
Wishing you a JOY filled New Year,
Gypsie and Jhana